Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Maxine McClean, is accusing some departments of wasting money.
Opening debate in the Upper Chamber this morning on the 2015-2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, McClean, who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, suggested that the more money that departments such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) get, the more they tend to waste.
Speaking at the time on health, the Minister wanted to know what the cadre of health care professionals at the QEH was doing to help cut costs instead of asking for more money.
”Let’s look at the whole issue of procurement and the storage and use of medication. Have we been looking at these things? Do we know, or are we comfortable that when supplies come in, that supplies are not hoarded because people might fear that they may disappear and they hoard them…?” she queried during her more than two hour contribution.
McClean said she was asking these questions because at the end of the day, what she always hear were requests for more money. But one of the things that I have also discovered, and we see it in these very Estimates here, that when there is more money, there is also a tendency to be wasteful; and I think that is an important issue to look at.”
“The key thing is that when we talk about this, is that we are constrained by our resources, but we also want to be sure that while we make a case for more money, we also can make a case to save,” she stressed.
The Leader of Government Business argued that the need for more money arises because those asking have exhausted all opportunities to enhance their efficiency and put those things in place to minimize wastage and the consequences of practices which may not lead to effectiveness and better management.
”So it doesn’t only apply to the hospital, but it applies elsewhere. But I know, as I said, there is a tendency to do that,” McClean added.
Putting what she said was health care expenditure of resource use in context, she was particularly concerned about the role of the medical professionals in assisting the hospital to better reduce its skyrocketing costs.
”I have been asking myself “What role can or does our cadre of health professionals, whether it is at a policlinic or at the QEH ….play in…identifying methods for increasing efficiency and effectiveness, thereby reducing costs?”
She drew an example by recalling a recent conversation with a doctor on the QEH and its funding in which the question was asked: “How does the doctor, the nurse, the orderly, the maid and so on, go beyond asking for more money? Is there any evidence of a structured, systematic ongoing effort on the part, for example, of doctors to examine how they do business?
“In other words, if I had to do an analysis of patient care, have they systematically, individually or collectively as a professional body working in polyclinics or at the QEH, look to examine how they do business?” the Government Minister queried.
She further questioned, for instance, the cost to a patient and the health system, if a person was admitted to the hospital, say on a Friday night and remained in bed until the Tuesday morning, because the consultant did not see them all that time.
McClean hoped that if she was there for those three days, she was not getting any sicker “But that bed is occupied for three days and there is no real diagnosis and treatment commenced; and there is a cost, because every day in the bed costs money and you are depriving somebody else,” bemoaned the Cabinet Minister.
McClean also believes the country could cut the costs of delivering care by taking greater personal responsibility for one’s lifestyles through prevention and proper nutrition. “We are facing a crisis which is larger than what we have now; and that has to do with what I see to be the future of many of our young people if we are not able to get them to address the matter of taking responsibility for their own health care…,” she noted.